The primary goal of the Small Business Development Centers in Tennessee is to optimize and maximize jobs in Tennessee. Workforce Development and Economic Development are the driving factors for a stronger, stable workforce and lower unemployment rate.
Yesterday morning, Leroy Cunningham, Senior Business Development Specialist with the Murfreesboro SBCD was the keynote speaker at the chamber’s General Membership Breakfast. Mr. Cunningham elaborated on the roadmap for success that our collective of talent needs to focus on; a gameplan, teamwork, and public-private partnerships. Simple and apparent as it may seem, it is crucial we be reminded of these key elements. So often we get tied up in the “Bigger Picture” and set aside the basic pillars of accomplishing a goal. But they are no less important.
Our Game Plan should be Teamwork for Public and Private Partnerships to drive Economic and Workforce Development
An important part of our game plan must be to inventory our resources. “When we focus on what we don’t have, we need to remember we have people with talent,” Mr. Cunningham stated. Too often, we look at prosperous cities and say, “We can’t.” We think because we don’t have a have a mountain or a beach that we can’t create something special. Mr. Cunningham relayed the story of Walt Disney looking for investors in the early years and being denied for his outlandish ideas, but look at Disney now! He compared the Disney story to how natives must have felt 15 years ago when the idea came about to have a music festival in the middle of a huge empty field in the small town of Manchester, TN. And yet, look at Bonnaroo today. And look at the possibilities that Great Stage Park presents for the future.
Secondly, Mr. Cunningham stressed the importance of teamwork. Successful communities find team members who want to play and will be committed. Their teams are transparent and inclusive. So many times, one individual’s path can align with another’s agenda, but for whatever reason the parties just cannot seem to connect or establish a combined effort to make an initiative work. This is our own fault. If we are to progress as a community we can no longer detach our own efforts from another’s. Truth is, any large scale endeavor is more than just one person’s concern, and the job is just too big and too important to be attempted individually. For example… If you want to build a waterpark, this is a combined effort. Do you have enough water pressure to your park? How clean is the water at your park? Is Tourism recognizing your park as an attraction? Do elected officials and townspeople know your business impacts their tax dollars as tourist attractions? Are there enough hotels built to maximize your business goals? And on and on.
And finally, Mr. Cunningham provided a gentle reminder that government can’t do everything for any community. Governments are strapped; their budgets are stretched thin. But there are still ways to build the community we desire. Effective communities are entering into public-private partnerships (or p3’s). There are countless stories around the country of how the public and private sector partnered together on projects and programs with wild success.
We must have a strong vibrant community for those who live here, who want to relocate here, who want to visit here, and for our children to stay or return here. Our elected officials need to be informed with data to make informed decisions that drive economic development.